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Safely Hidden in God's Memory

The great African theologian Augustine of Hippo spent a lot of time pondering the mysteries of memory—the way some memories stick and others don't, the way some disappear and then return, the way others are lost irrevocably. He felt frustrated that some memories remained forever inaccessible to him, lost in the "vast and boundless subterranean shrine" that he imagined memory to be. "I dive down deep as I can," he wrote in his Confessions, "and I can find no end, nor can I myself grasp all that I am." Only in you, he says to God, can I recover the memories that I have lost.

We cannot know ourselves fully, Augustine says, because we cannot remember every moment of our lives; no one can. Only God remembers everything that has happened to us, all that we have thought and felt and done. If we are to know ourselves, Augustine insists, we have to search for ourselves in God.

Surely this is also true of the beloved friends we have lost. Like our lost memories and theirs, they are held now in God.

- Stephanie Paulsell, "Welcomed to Ministry," The Christian Century, May 05, 2011.